Friday 12 April 2024

Left Field after eight years


My memoir Left Field was published in 2016 by Unbound and distributed bt Penquin. I have been informed that is no longer available in shops and difficult to buy online, but you can now read it for free here and as an e-book and in Audible

 The intervening years have been ones of personal and political hope and of personal and political despair. In other words, nothing out of the ordinary.


Not surprisingly for someone in my seventh decade, these have been years when close friends have left this planet while I remain clinging to its edges, aware of Leonard Cohen’s words to Marianne Ihlen that, “I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.”

The subdural haematoma operation I wrote about in Left Field was followed two years later by a heart valve operation, then a stroke caused by a strepsis infection of my new valve. I used my hospital stays to campaign for an NHS that had now saved my life three times.


I'm proud that the unfairly much-vilified Jeremy Corbyn visited me when I was in St Barts Hospital. The worst insult he has had to endure has been ‘anti-semitism’ accusations about a man who has been at the forefront of anti-racism struggles all his life.


To that end, I helped organise a letter in his support signed by Ken Loach, Brian Eno, Grime4Corbyn, Nigel Kennedy, Alexei Sayle and thousands of others, I consider Corbyn to be our El Pepe. 

His visit to me was organised by Alice Kilroy whose recent death has left my grip on the planet edges more enfeebled. She was a wonderful friend and visited me in hospital more times  than anyone outside my immediate family. I miss her. Here she is with the banner she made for my 70th birthday.



Before she died in February 2020, Alice asked me to take over her work as one of the contributors to People's Campaign for Corbyn Facebook.  You can view all these blogs on my website at

Plenty to keep me busy and angry in support of Jeremy, but am also finding time to write a new book, about food and memory. My World Café has beem published by Riversmeet in November 2022. It is a collaboration with the wonderfully gifted artist Laura Davis


These years have been ones when my eldest son lost and won back his disability benefits. Many haven’t and many have lost their lives in the process.

These have also been years of loss for me, not of the dead, but of a living son who has ghosted me. I wrote about this under a pseudonym for Stand Alone, a charity set up for people estranged from their families. 



My past as co-founder of the charity War Child still haunts me and hope it haunts those I write critically about here. I recently learned that the present War Child CEO receives an annual salary of £116,000.


My critique of aid charities continued after two visits to the Calais ‘jungle’ refugee ‘camps’. 


Perhaps we have to become more French because La Lutte must continue against a system that rewards rogues, steals votes.

I visit my eldest son Ben in Cornwall and in July 2022 I took the longer journey to Mostar to stay with my Bosnian family who I wrote about in Left Field.

When there I was honoured to see me in the entrance to the Pavarotti Music Centre,

and here are Oha Maslo and Mili Tiro standing with me


Here in London I have been trying to play guitar again. My left hand was weakened by the stroke. My music friends are at Camden Guitars and the owner, Deicola Neves, tells me off when I complain. "Didn't you know that Django Reinhardt only had three fingers? 

Here is my friend playing great jazz on bass guitar.

And here is a Dubioza Kolektiv track about borders that kill. I dedicate this entry to the memory o f Alice Kilroy and all those who have kept me connected to music and therefore to life.



As I conclude this postscript genocide smashes its way through Gaza and Palestine, aided and abetted by our political leaders and the 'liberal media'. All we are left with is Gramsci's - 'pessimism of the heart, optimism of the will.'


You can read All of Left Field here.